Judge Deborah Boardman – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

In 2019, Judge Stephanie Gallagher, a magistrate judge in the District of Maryland, was confirmed to the federal bench.  She was replaced as a magistrate judge by federal public defender Deborah Boardman.  Boardman herself is now a nominee to join Gallagher on the Maryland District Court.

Background

The 46-year-old Boardman was born in Silver Spring, Maryland and grew up in nearby Frederick.  Boardman received a B.A. summa cum laude from Villanova University in 1996, and then spent a year in Amman, Jordan, on a Fulbright Scholarship.  Boardman then obtained a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2000.

After graduation, Boardman clerked for Judge James Cacheris on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. She then joined the D.C. office of Hogan & Hartson as an associate.  In 2008, Boardman left the firm to become a federal public defender in Maryland. 

In 2019, when Gallagher was elevated to be a U.S. District Judge, Boardman was appointed to replace her as a U.S. Magistrate Judge, where she currently serves.

History of the Seat

Boardman has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  While the exact seat has not been specified, Boardman will likely fill the seat opened by Judge Richard Bennett’s move to senior status upon the confirmation of his successor.

Legal Career

Boardman began her legal career as a law clerk on the Eastern District of Virginia.  From 2001 to 2008, she worked as an associate at Hogan & Hartson in Washington D.C.  During her tenure there, Boardman worked on the legal team for Derek Tice, a former Navy officer who had been convicted of rape and murder in Norfolk.[1]  Boardman was able to convince Judge Everett Martin to overturn Tice’s conviction based on violations of his right against self-incrimination.[2] However, Martin’s decision was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court (in a decision written by future Fourth Circuit Judge Barbara Keenan).

From 2008 to 2019, Boardman worked as a Federal Public Defender in Maryland, where she represented indigent defendants in federal court.  Among her notable matters there, Boardman represented Thomas Drake, an employee of the National Security Agency charged with mishandling classified information.[3]  The prosecution ended with the dropping of all charges in exchange for a plea on a single misdemeanor.  Boardman also represented Anthony McIntosh, a Prince George’s County jail worker who was charged with failing to seek medical attention when coming across an inmate who was found “hanging from a sheet in his cell.”[4] 

Political Activity

Boardman has a couple of political donations under her belt.  In 2007, Boardman gave $500 to the Presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, while in 2008, she gave $300 to Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign.

Jurisprudence 

Boardman has served as a U.S. Magistrate judge in Maryland since her appointment in 2019.  In this role, she handles settlement, discovery, and makes recommendations on dispositive motions.  She also presides over cases where the parties consent.

Given her short tenure as a magistrate, Boardman has relatively few substantive decisions under her belt, generally involving issues of pretrial release and detention.  For example, Boardman denied the government’s motion to hold Michael Davis, who was charged with drug and firearm related offenses, finding that Davis has no history of violence and there were conditions other than detention that could protect the community.[5]

In another case, Boardman granted an inmate’s motion for pretrial release, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic materially changed the circumstances of his detention and that additional conditions could ensure the safety of the community.[6]  

Overall Assessment

With two decades of litigation experience, and a relatively uncontroversial background, Boardman should, barring the unexpected, see a relatively comfortable confirmation to the District of Maryland.

[1]See Matt Reed, Judge Overturns Conviction in 1997 Norfolk Murder Case, A.P., Nov. 30, 2006.

[2]Id.

[3] See Alex Dominguez, Motion to Drop Charges in NSA Leaks Case Denied, A.P., March 31, 2011.

[4] See Brian White, Man Pleads Guilty in Case Involving Inmate Death, A.P., Jan. 4, 2013.

[5]United States v. Davis, 449 F. Supp. 3d 532 (D. Md. 2020).

[6] United States v. Shaheed, 455 F. Supp. 225 (D. Md. 2020).

Judge Lydia Griggsby – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Judge Lydia Griggsby, nominated to be a federal trial judge in Maryland, should have a short learning curve for her new role, given that she has served as a trial judge on the specialized Court of Federal Claims for the last seven years.

Background

A native Marylander, Lydia Kay Griggsby was born on January 16, 1968 in Baltimore.  Griggsby received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990, and then obtained a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1993.[1]

After graduation, Griggsby worked for the Baltimore office of DLA Piper for two years before joining the U.S. Department of Justice as a trial attorney. [2]  In 1998, Griggsby became a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

In 2004, Griggsby left to become Counsel for the Senate Committee on Ethics.  In 2006, she became Counsel to Sen. Patrick Leahy at the Senate Judiciary Committee, working on privacy and technology issues.[3]

In 2014, Griggsby was nominated by President Obama to be a Judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, replacing Judge Francis Allegra.  Griggsby was confirmed by voice vote on December 5, 2014, and has served in that position ever since.

History of the Seat

Griggsby has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  While the exact seat has not been specified, Griggsby will likely fill the seat opened by Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander’s move to senior status upon the confirmation of her successor.

Legal Career

Griggsby has held a number of positions throughout her career, including work in private practice, for the federal government, and as a staffer for the U.S. Senate.  Interestingly, by her own description, most of these roles did not involve Griggsby working on litigation, and Griggsby did not actively try any cases except on the pleadings.[4]

Nonetheless, Griggsby has worked on a number of complex cases.  For example, Griggsby worked as part of the federal government in negotiating a consent decree requiring better environmental protections in vehicles produced by Toyota. [5]  She also defended the Bureau of Prisons against a constitutional lawsuit challenging regulations governing the inmates’ use of mail.[6] 

Political Activity

Griggsby has a fairly short political history, consisting primarily of two stints conducting voter protection for the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012.[7]

Jurisprudence 

Griggsby has served as a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge since her appointment in 2014.  In this role, she adjudicates suits involving monetary claims against the federal government as well as specialized cases, including vaccine injury suits.  Among her notable rulings on the Court of Federal Claims, Griggsby ruled, in a decision upheld by the Federal Circuit, that a protester to the award of a government contract did not have standing to file a challenge if the protester was unable to perform the contract.[8]  

Overall Assessment

Seven years ago, Griggsby was confirmed unanimously for a seat on the Court of Federal Claims.  Given the lack of controversy in her background, there is little reason to think that her confirmation to the District of Maryland will be too different.

[1]See Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 113rd Cong., Lydia Griggsby: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2]Id. at 2.

[3] See id.

[4] Id. at 14-15.

[5]See United States v. Toyota Motor Corp., No. 99-018888 (D.D.C. July 1, 2003).

[6] McCain v. Reno, 98 F. Supp. 2d 5 (D.D.C. 2000).

[7] See Griggsby, supra n. 1 at 11.

[8] See Stuart Turner and Nathaniel Castellano, Fed. Circ. Ruling Highlights Bid Protester Standing Issues, Mondaq, Sept. 28, 2018.

Judge Stephanie Gallagher – Nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Judge Stephanie Gallagher is the latest of several unconfirmed Obama nominees put forward by President Trump.  While her relatively uncontroversial record secured her a unanimous approval from the Committee in 2016, it was unable to secure a final confirmation vote.  This time, she is likely to be more lucky.

Background

Gallagher was born Stephanie Marie Agli in Rockville, Connecticut in 1972.  Gallagher received a B.A. from Georgetown University in the Government Honors Program magna cum laude in 1994, and then procured a J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2007.[1]

After graduation, Gallagher clerked for Judge J. Frederick Motz on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. She then joined the D.C. office of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, & Feld as an associate.[2]  In 2002, Gallagher left the firm to become a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.[3]

In 2008, Gallagher founder the Baltimore firm Levin & Gallagher LLC.[4]  She stayed at the firm until she was appointed as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in 2011, replacing Judge James Bredar, who had been elevated to be a U.S. District Judge.[5]

History of the Seat

Gallagher has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  This seat opened on February 1, 2016, when Judge William Quarles moved to senior status.[6]  In March 2013, Gallagher applied to fill other vacancies that had opened on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.[7]  While Gallagher was recommended by then-Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the Administration selected other candidates.[8]  Nevertheless, Gallagher’s name was resubmitted to the White House in 2015, and she was nominated on September 8, 2015.[9]

Gallagher’s nomination sat before the Judiciary Committee for approximately seven months before she received a hearing on April 20, 2016.  On May 19, 2016, the Committee voted unanimously to send Gallagher’s nomination to the full Senate, where she was blocked from a final vote by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

After the election of President Trump, no further action was taken on Gallagher’s nomination, and her nomination was returned unconfirmed to the President in 2017.  President Trump renominated her on June 11, 2018 to fill the same vacancy.

Legal Career

Gallagher began her legal career as an associate at Akin Gump, where she represented large corporations in civil litigation.  Notably, Gallagher was part of the defense team representing the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an Arab American charity charged with fundraising for Hamas.[10]

In 2001, Gallagher moved to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, prosecuting a variety of cases, including white collar crimes, narcotics, and firearms offenses.  In an early case, Gallagher successfully prosecuted a defendant for conspiracy to distribute marijuana, securing a 63-month sentence.[11]  She also prosecuted a defendant charged with a narcotics conspiracy and multiple homicides, leading a two-week trial and defending the conviction successfully on appeal.[12]

From 2008 to 2011, Gallagher started her own practice focusing on white collar criminal defense matters.[13]  She also handled some court-appointed criminal defense work and general civil litigation.[14]

Political Activity

Somewhat unusually, Gallagher’s political involvement is evenly divided between the two major parties.  Gallagher was a volunteer for the campaign of Gregg Bernstein, a Democrat, to serve as Baltimore City Attorney in 2010, but also hosted a fundraiser at her home for former Gov. Robert Ehrlich the same year (Ehrlich, a Republican was challenging Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley).[15]

Her contributions reflect a similar pattern.  In 2006, Gallagher gave $250 to Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, but two years later donated $500 to Sen. John McCain’s campaign to be U.S. President.[16]

Jurisprudence and Reversals

Gallagher has served as a U.S. Magistrate judge in Maryland since her appointment in 2011.  In this role, she handles settlement, discovery, and makes recommendations on dispositive motions.  She also presides over cases where the parties consent.  Between 2011 and 2016, Gallagher presided over one jury trial and four bench trials.[17]  Gallagher’s more prominent trials include a damages case over the disappearance of a truckload of frozen salmon,[18] the calculation of damages for a wrongful termination case under the Family and Medical Leave Act,[19] and a bench trial arising from a traffic collision at Fort Meade.[20]

Gallagher has had a relatively low reversal rate during her tenure as a U.S. Magistrate Judge.  In one prominent reversal, Gallagher granted summary judgment against a road worker who was injured during work while suspended above traffic, finding that he had assumed the risk of injury.[21]  The Fourth Circuit reversed, finding that the assumption of risk defense did not apply in that case.[22]  She was also reversed by the Fourth Circuit after holding that a civil rights plaintiff had forfeited his right to attorney’s fees by not timely filing a motion with the court after judgment.[23]

Overall Assessment

Having been recommended for the federal bench by two Democrats and previously nominated by President Obama, Gallagher should face a relatively smooth path to confirmation.  Even though her initial foray as a nominee was unsuccessful, Gallagher’s renomination by President Trump should ensure a bipartisan confirmation.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 114th Cong., Stephanie Gallagher: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] Id. at 2.

[3] Id.

[4] Id. at 1-2.

[5] Brendan Kearney, Stephanie A. Gallagher Hearing Cases as New Magistrate Judge in Baltimore, The Daily Record, Apr. 24, 2011.

[6] Quarles, like Gallagher, was a failed judicial nominee renominated by a subsequent president.

[7] Gallagher, supra n. 1 at 39.

[8] Specifically, Judges Theodore Chuang, and George Hazel.

[9] Gallagher, supra n. 1 at 39.

[10] See James Grimaldi, An Arab American Charitable Connection That Might Be Too Close for Comfort, Wash. Post, Dec. 17, 2001.

[11] United States v. Butler, Criminal No. 01-0161-AW, aff’d, 61 F. App’x 857, 2003 WL 1711275 (4th Cir. Apr. 1, 2003) (unpublished per curiam opinion).

[12] United States v. Baskerville, Criminal No. 02-0410-CCB, aff’d, 253 F. App’x 280, 2007 WL 3306474 (4th Cir. Nov. 7, 2007) (unpublished per curiam opinion).

[13] Gallagher, supra n. 1 at 28.

[14] See id.

[15] Id. at 27.

[17] See Gallagher, supra n. 1 at 11.

[18] Merchants Terminal Corp. v. L&O Transport, Inc. et. al., Civil No. 09-2065-SAG, 2012 WL 1416631 (D. Md. Apr. 20, 2012).

[19] Neel v. Mid-Atlantic of Fairfield, LLC., Civil No. 10-0405-SAG, 2012 WL 3264965 (D. Md. Aug. 9, 2012).

[20] United States v. McNeill, Traffic Violation No. 2359730.

[21] See Meyers v. Lamar, No. SAG-11-3507, 2013 WL 1325295 (D. Md. Mar. 29, 2013).

[22] Meyers v. Lamar, 743 F.3d 908 (4th Cir. 2014).

[23] Fernandes v. Craine, 538 F. App’x 274 (4th Cir. 2013) (unpublished decision).